Introduce and pass the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (P.A.W.S) Act #DogsForVeterans
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On average, 22 veterans a day commit suicide due to mental health issues, directly related to prior service deployments, known as Post-Traumatic Stress. According to the Congressional Research Service, there have been more than 128,000 deployed veterans diagnosed with PTS between 2000 and 2014. Prescription drug treatments often drive up the number of mental health related suicides among veterans, according to a study by the U.S Senate VA Committee.
Fewer than half of veterans diagnosed with PTS receive the psychiatric treatment that need, and between 20-50% of those who do receive treatment do not complete the program either because they are worried about it reflecting negatively on their career or because they do not believe the program is working. Currently, the VA does NOT provide service dogs for mental health issues related to PTS, but they provide service animals “trained to do specific tasks for a person that he or she cannot do because of a disability”.
Measurable data is needed to quantify the assistance that service dogs provide to veterans with PTS; the VA has repeatedly delayed the studies that are needed to help quantify these benefits, so the service dog program remains uninsurable. The average cost for PTS–trained service dog is between $10,000 and $20,000. If all PTS diagnosed Iraq and Afghanistan veterans utilized the service dog program, it could cost the U.S. government between $2.5 to $4 billion, not including veterinary care for the service animal. Based on the maximum number of service animals for an average 15 year lifespan per animal, the additional cost for veterinary care is estimated as additional $600 to $700 million. Therefore, the total cost of a VA sponsored service animal program, to cover all PTS diagnosed veterans, is estimated between $3 and $5 billion.
We call on Congress to introduce the "Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers" Act, which is needed to expand the VA definition of “service dog” to include those that assist veterans with the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress. Please visit PAWSAct.com for more information, including how you can help! #DogsForVeterans
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